Torres, R.T., Cunha, M.V., Araujo, D., Ferreira, H., Fonseca, C. & Palmeira, J.D. (2021) Emergence of colistin resistance genes (mcr-1) in Escherichia coli among widely distributed wild ungulates.Environmental Pollution, 291, 118136. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2021.118136 (IF2020 8,071; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
The environment is considered a major reservoir of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms (AMR) and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG). Colistin, a “last resort” antibiotic, is used for the treatment of severe infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. The global dissemination of mobile colistin resistance genes (mcr) in natural and non-natural environments is a major setback in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Hitherto, there is a limited number of studies screening this resistance determinant in bacteria from wildlife. In this study, we describe for the first time the detection of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance in Escherichia coli from wild ungulates in Portugal, which are also widely distributed across Europe. This information is critical to identify the importance of ungulates in the dissemination of resistant bacteria, and their corresponding genes, across the environment. Here, 151 resistant-Enterobacteriaceae isolated from 181 samples collected from different wild ungulate species throughout Portugal were screened for mcr genes. Four mcr-1-positive Escherichia coli were detected from four fallow deer individuals that were sampled in the same hunting ground. These four isolates harboured mcr-1-related IncP plasmids belonging to sequencing types ST155, ST533 and ST345 (n = 2), suggesting bacterial and/or plasmid circulation. All mcr-1-positive E. coli also showed other resistance phenotypes, including MDR, including the B1 commensal phylogenetic profile. All mcr-1-positive E. coli show additional resistance phenotypes, including MDR, including the B1 commensal phylogenetic profile. Our findings are upsetting, highlighting the global dissemination of colistin resistance genes in the whole ecosystem, which, under the One Health framework, emphasizes the urgent need for effective implementation of AMR surveillance and control in the human-animal-environment interfaces.